“Women don’t play soccer,” The school director didn’t blink. I knew this was not true. I lived with 14 year-old girl, Arusik, who watched every Manchester United game, “I can play soccer, but the boys never pass to me.” Her struggles are reflected in national policy. In 2013, the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) disbanded the women’s program, citing budget cuts; in actuality, ancient traditions and societal pressures make many opportunities difficult or impossible for girls and women.
In reaction GOALS was founded in 2015. Despite widespread opposition GOALS established a network of allies to promote gender equality through sport. With the help of Armenian volunteers across the country GOALS opened the first women’s soccer league in Armenia, centered in Goris in 2016, and has opened four additional women’s leagues since throughout the country.
Now with over 25 partner organizations across the country and the globe GOALS impacts over two thousand young women. Our grassroots efforts are creating change; new Federation leagues have been created for girls further from the capitol and more organizations are joining us in creating opportunities for girls to play soccer in their communities. We have started a movement that now includes over 2,000 youth and over 450 educators across the country.
GOALS believes that sport is the perfect medium for promoting healthy lifestyle, changing gender stereotypes and building confidence and leaderships skills in women and girls throughout the country. GOALS is currently the only sport for development NGO in Armenia, and the only NGO working to bridge the gender gap in sports. With a focus on projects that benefit and take place in the regions of Armenia, we focus on girls from villages and underprivileged families, with the help of partner organizations and allies all over the country.